Should you store your wine or drink it right away?

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There’s a theory that wine improves with age, and in general, this is true but does this apply to the wine most people buy from stores? Can the wine we buy be stored, or does it need to be consumed right away?

We’re going to break down the reality of most store-bought wine, when storing is beneficial, and what to do if such wine does need to be stored temporarily.

The reality of most wine

The reality is most wine is mass produced and are designed to be consumed right away. The wineries producing these bottles are already taking it through the slight aging process, so it’s perfect for consumption the moment it hits store shelves. As a result, if you store this type of wine, it’ll slowly oxidize and deteriorate in taste.

There’s only a tiny fraction of win out there designed to hold up and improve with age. The chances are these wine bottles are collector items and meant to be cellared to age to perfection. However, very few winemakers are known to produce wine worth aging, and this lack of supply means these bottles come with a hefty price tag.   A good rule of thumb is if it’s an expensive bottle, then it will possibly benefit from a bit of aging.

Should you store your wine?

So if most wine readily available doesn’t age well if stored, then when should you store wine and if so for how long?

Well, the type of grape wine will inform whether it can handle some form of storage. Tannic grape, for example, is one that should be stored to age gracefully. Reds such as Bordeaux, Barolo, and Burgundy are usually made from Tannic and can benefit from aging for a few years.

For wine that isn’t designed for aging but won’t be consumed right away, there are still ways to keep it stored to prevent it from deteriorating quickly. Here are a few tips to follow in such instances:

  • If it’s corked, store it sideways. If the wine bottle has a core, place it sideways while stored ensures the cork remains moist and prevents oxidation of the wine when the cork shrinks slightly from drying out.

  • Store at optimal temperature. Different wines have different temperatures that are optimal for storage. You can get a gist of the various temperatures here. If maintaining a specific temperature is hard, the important aspect is to keep whatever temperature constant, as fluctuating temperatures can also allow air into the bottle and oxidize the wine.

  • Keep it away from light and humid conditions. Light and humidity are both known to enable oxidation of the wine, so be sure to keep any wine bottles in a dry and dark place.
  • Limited vibration. Vibration can disturb micro-sediments within the wine bottle and encourage oxidation. This mainly affects reds, so be sure the bottles are stored somewhere stable that won’t experience much vibration from nearby movements, appliances, or machinery.

The gist of this is to keep it in a dark place, at constant temperature and that’s humid free. If a wine cooler isn’t available, then areas such as the basement are appropriate. If the wine is planned to be consumed within a week, it can be stored in the fridge but any time longer than a week and the low temperature will dull out the taste.

While there are ways to limit the deterioration of wine not meant for storage, the best bet is to consume any bottle you purchase within a week, and only save the ‘cellaring’ for the expensive bottles you know are suitable for aging.